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Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 Q&A

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 Q&A (1)

For some, the Japanese role-playing game has lost some of its luster, with critics claiming that contemporary titles use formulaic plotlines to goad gamers into action. But that claim could hardly be leveled at 2011’s Hyperdimension Neptunia, a PlayStation 3 title which re-imagined the seventh generation console war as an allegory where unabashedly moe maidens reluctantly unite to save Gamindustri from peril.

While the game’s storyline was driven by an imaginative impetus and plenty of flippant references, a handful of technical impediments prohibited Neptunia from capitalizing on its potential. With the release of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 for the PS Vita, Idea Factory has been striving to mend those blemishes. We spoke with Mr. Shingo Onodera at Idea Factory, the director of the game, as well as Mr. Haru Akenaga, CEO of Idea Factory International, Inc. to hear about some of these changes.

Tech-Gaming: The motivation to port the original Hyperdimension Neptunia to the PS Vita is fairly obvious-allowing a new demographic of players to enjoy Neptune’s adventures. But the decision to go back and improve key elements of the game isn’t quite as evident. What was the impetus behind this ambition?

Shingo Onodera, Director of Neptunia Re;Birth1The biggest reason behind this port was the voice of our fans. It was an easy decision to overhaul the original Neptunia, as the staff completely understood the complaints from fans who were dissatisfied with the system and scenario for the original Neptunia game. We were very happy to be able to make this decision. We heard from fans who had played the original game that they very much enjoyed the new story and battle system in the new game, and from fans of the Neptunia anime who enjoyed the simple battle system and said that the story was interesting and fully like the show is. That’s how Neptunia Re;Birth1 came to be, and we recommend it to anyone who is interested in the Neptunia series but hasn’t yet played any of the titles in the series.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 Q&A (2)

T-G: Where most of the changes conceived by the design team or by listening to fans?

Onodera: Some of them are because of requests by our fans, but we as a team also wanted to port the game to Vita. When we released Neptune PP on Vita, we received a great deal of feedback from fans saying that they would love to play the Neptunia series on Vita so they can enjoy it when outside or when playing in bed. Fortunately, the Vita’s development environment shares a lot of similarities with the PS3. We were able to use most of the graphical assets and programs that were developed for the PS3 in the Vita, which makes it the most suitable platform for developing a port.

T-G: Let’s discuss some of the visual upgrades made to Re;Birth1.  What kind of changes can players expect to see?

Haru Akenaga, CEO of Idea Factory International, Incorporated: There is newly drawn character artwork in Re;Birth1. Some characters have new facial expressions when using accessories. The character models have been remastered to the same level of quality as Neptunia Victory.

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T-G: One of the fundamental visual blemishes with the original Neptunia was the game’s framerate? Where any improvements made in this area?

Onodera: Honestly, the game’s framerate was one of the biggest challenges among the dev staff. I believe the game’s attractiveness and enjoyability would be lost if we were forced to reduce the number of polygons in the character models or decrease the texture size in order to improve the framerate. If we had to do so, it would be putting the cart before the horse. Therefore, we decided to adjust everything except the characters in the Vita version in order to keep the framerate high. That being said, Neptunia Re;Birth1 presents the gameplay with the character quality of the PS3.

T-G: Accompanying those alternations are a number of amendments to the games sonic output? What alterations have been made to the game’s music and voice acting?

Onodera: Because the scenario has been rewritten, we recorded new voiceovers for Neptunia Re;Birth1. As to the soundtrack, much of the original game’s music has been rearranged.  Of course, I can assure everyone that the sound quality is just as high as in the PS3 version.

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T-G: Where any changes made from Hyperdimension Neptunia’s original localization?

Akenaga: We have kept all the key terminology from the original series. The story itself has been rewritten in Re;Birth1, so fans who have already played through Hyperdimension Neptunia on the PS3 will be able to enjoy this new story with familiar characters and terms.

T-G: Both Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 and Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory gradually evolved the first game’s combat system. Are these advancements reflected in Re;Birth’s battles?

Onodera: The Re;Birth series isn’t just porting, but a true rebirth, with new elements. If it was a simple port, then there would be no motivation for fans who played the original games to play the new versions, and even if they did they wouldn’t be satisfied. That can be said about both the gameplay and the story. As creators, we would like to keep offering new and exciting things to the fans and to the game industry as a whole.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 Q&A (5)

T-G: One new element is called the “Remake System,” which allows players to customize and make changes to the game system. Can you explain how this works?

Akenaga: Players will be able to obtain Plans from the residents of Gamindustri, treasure boxes, or as loot from monsters. Each Plan will have requirements, like gathering a certain number of items. Once a Plan’s requirements have been fulfilled, you will be able to add the Plan to change your game. For example, you can make your character jump higher in order to get to places previously out of reach, or you can modify the items you will find in certain dungeons, or make monsters stronger to add more challenge to the game. There are a number of different Plans that will let you tailor the game to your liking.

T-G: Can player expect any new cameos?

Onodera:Since Neptunia Re;Birth1 is a remake of the original Neptunia title, there are no “new” characters. However, there will be many characters from the second installment in the series appearing in Re;Birth1.  We hope that fans who have already played the original game will be able to enjoy the characters’ journey in the new world!

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T-G: The original series was published by NIS America, while Re;Birth 1 will be put out by Idea Factory International. What was the motivation behind this change?

Akenaga: Since Idea Factory International had been established in the States, it was natural move to explore the options and opportunities to release the title from Idea Factory International. We are hoping to bring more Idea Factory titles to the western market with this change.

Tech-Gaming would like to thank Shingo Onodera, Haru Akenaga for taking the time to speak to us as well as thank Nao Miyazawa Pellicone for facilitating the interview. 

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

40 comments

  1. Wow, I thought this was just a basic port, and was going to reluctantly grab it.

    Now my interest has increased tenfold. I can’t wait to play now.

    Great interview, Robert-san!!! I want more from Japan.

    • Two years ago I came to the site having played FFVII and a couple of other JRPGs. Now I’m basically an otaku, that reads T-G and Siliconera (and listens to 8-4!)

      I blame you pikchu!

      • I also play some JRPGs. Anyone says modern ones aren’t good is a dirty filthy rotten liar!

  2. Missed a great importunity to do a post-mortum on Neptunia PP. Seems like there was a big gap between the concept and the execution.

  3. I see the name/word “moe” in anime and game circles. What exactly does it mean?

    • Adorable or really cute characters.

      It’s means “growing” as it applied to lolis mostly and sounds like “burning”, as in a burning desire.

      Pronounced Moe-Aye, not “Moe” like the 3 Stooges character.

      • Thanks for sharing that. I knew the term but not the background of the word.

        Makes sense.

  4. Such a cute looking game.

    Great interview Robert, I can’t wait to see what you think of the game.

  5. Pretty good interview, but you forgot to mention the release date. Aug. 26 for North America and Aug. 27 in Europe.

  6. Never played the original game. From what I heard that was a good choice.

    Any kind of collector’s edition for this one?

  7. Question: how many grown adult men play these games? I’m not judging just curious.

    • I don’t know why the age of the characters and players matter. Should no one read comic or watch TV or movies set in high school if they’re out of HS?

    • I’m an adult male that’s a fan of the series. Speaking of ages though, I hate the ages of Noire, Neptune, and Blanc. Wish all the characters except the candidates were sexy adult women like, Vert. Too many loli and teenage girls in stuff nowadays, and it’s starting to make me sick.

      • I don’t see them as Lolitas but women drawn a certain way. But I guess that do talk about things a younger girl would.

        Ah, Japan I still live you.

  8. Should have asked what’s with the semi-colon.

    • It’s a stylistic thing. A lot of titles for Japanese games have odd punctuation nowadays, and I’m pretty sure it’s just for how it looks.

      • I for one am tired on colons in games.

        Shooter 3: The Reckoning.

        Some games even have two colons.

  9. So glad to hear they worked on the engine! The framerate was pretty bad.

  10. Great interview. I might have to get Neptunia Rebirth 1. One question: will this just be digital?

  11. Hmm. He was awfully dodgy on that framerate question, aka the most important question given how poorly the original played.

    • “Therefore, we decided to adjust everything except the characters in the Vita version in order to keep the framerate high.”

      Meaning backgrounds took a dive. 🙁

      • Hi! I played the japanese version and the framerate are not that bad… During special the framerate are awful thought..

        • Tell me, was the story changed a lot? They seem to indicate it’s not simple port. I think otherwise.

          • Wandering Warrior

            It’s not a simple port.

            The story is the same story in that the same events happen, but every scene has been rewritten and revoiced. It’s a remake.

        • That sounds promising, I guess. I’m not a big “60fps or bust” kinda guy, but the framerate in the PS3 version was noticeably terrible throughout.

    • I have the japanese version of the game and the framerate is great. I think they fixed all those issues with an update that was released a few months after the game. I don’t know for sure how high it is, but it never goes below 30 fps.

  12. Wandering Warrior

    Is there any way you can get into contact with these guys again?

    I take a LOT of issue with their claim that the Re;Birth “series” “isn’t just porting, but a true rebirth, with new elements” and that “that can be said about […] the story.” Because while that may be true about RB1, it is absolutely not true at all for RB2. RB2 used the exact same script, swapped out a few characters that they could no longer use for new ones, added in a few side scenes and a new ending, and that’s it. I’d really like to hear how/why they think giving the second game such a treatment could suffice after all of the effort that went into the first one.

    • The simple answer is that HDN1 needed it much moreso. As the battle system had been completely changed for Mk2 and then tweaked some for Victory, there’s not as much of a need for them to completely remake Mk2 as there was with HDN1.

      • Wandering Warrior

        That only applies to why the battle system of RB2 isn’t too different from MK2’s, not the story. It being in this “rebirth” series almost explicitly implies the story should have gotten the same treatment as the first game’s, especially after what they’re saying here.

        They didn’t even have actresses rerecord scenes with the new characters pasted in, you realize. Their lines are responses to the characters that got cut out, meaning the new characters had to be written in such a way that made them fit that old role. That’s not a rebirth, that’s more like necromancy.

        • If they didn’t rerecord and are just reusing VO, they could turn out badly. Phrasing and inflection could be off when the characters play off each other.

          • Wandering Warrior

            They didn’t. This is especially noticeable because one of the new characters introduced in MK2 (Uni/Black Sister) uses a different tone in current games. It’s a very easy to notice thing if you listen.

            In addition to what you’re saying, the new characters never actually get a chance to shine as themselves – they’re just being inserted into preexisting roles and being given lines to match the existing scenes. It’s a real shame.

    • That’s hollow PR speak to me. When they say a redux feels like a new game more than half the time it’s just a tweaked version of the original, look at the Atelier Plus games. They’re a great improvement, but no an entirely new experience.

      • Wandering Warrior

        The thing is, RB1 is an entirely new game. You don’t need PR speak to be able to see that, it’s an observable fact. Yes, the scenario is similar to the first game’s, but the script is entirely new and the gameplay is very much updated. The fact that the second game in this series is, meanwhile, a glorified port of the second game, especially with their claims here, makes no sense.

    • Yeah hopefully you follow up or give impressions before a full review.

      Great job though Robert.

  13. These game generation redos are getting old. Make it right the first time, so I don’t have to buy the game twice.

  14. Robert I am told that a pc version of rebirth1 coming. is that true?

    • Considering that IF’s Agarest games are on PC, I’d put the odds at 60/40. I put the odds of a lazy, buggy port even higher though.

  15. “when playing in bed”, glad to see this is normal.